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Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. Midterm season. Bring on all the stress, all the cram sessions, and all the late nights at the library.
The truth is, studying for midterms can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming. But there are a few things you can do to make it more survivable. Here are a few little things I’ve found helpful for getting through midterm season.
“I’ll get started tomorrow.” *Cue procrastination and last-minute cram sessions.*
It’s okay, we have all been there. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, where are you supposed to start? How much of one subject are you supposed to study before moving on to another one?
That’s where making a schedule comes in handy. Using a planner or a scheduling app, mark when each exam is happening. Then, divide your time leading up to the exam with a set number of hours for each subject. For example, if you had a biology and psychology midterm, you could put in your schedule that your mornings are dedicated to studying biology while your afternoons are for psychology. Do what works for you.
Midterms usually just aren’t on one topic, they often cover everything that’s been covered in the course so far. Talk about a lot of material to go through. Where do you even start? How are you supposed to get through it with oh-so-limited time?
A great way to deal with this overwhelming task is to break it up into chunks. Write down everything you have to go through and then divide it up over the days leading up to the exam. So if the midterm is a week away and you have ten chapters to cover, aim for two chapters a day and then a couple of days to review. Two chapters today sure feels way more manageable than ten, doesn’t it?
Midterm season is more survivable with friends. Starting a study group with some friends or classmates can help you stay more motivated and focused. You can even divide up the work and quiz each other.
The only watch out? Make sure they’re people that actually help you study. While spending all day catching up is fun, my guess is it probably won’t help you ace that midterm.
How you study should be different depending on the class and the kind of exam.
If you have a math midterm, practice problems are your friend. If it’s an English exam, make a study guide where you connect the material to the major themes of the course. With midterms with lots of facts to memorize, flashcards might be helpful. For an essay exam, outline or even practice writing out some possible essay questions.
Every class is different so once you learn the structure of the exam (short answer, multiple choice, essays), you can study accordingly.
While a lot of people don’t think songs and studying mix, music can actually lift your mood and help you stay focused and motivated as you study. Just make sure you’re listening to the right kind of music. Stick to slow, instrumental songs with no lyrics. Also, make sure the volume’s set pretty low so you can focus more on what you’re studying.
Got questions about the course material? Ask away.
As you’re reviewing your notes or going through the textbook, feel free to write your questions down on sticky notes or in the margin of your notes. Then when you get a chance, you can ask your professor or a study buddy for help. Don’t feel embarrassed about it – it’s better to ask now than not ask and get stressed during the exam!
Also, if your professor or TA is offering a test prep session, check it out. It’s a great way to review for the exam and get any of those burning questions you have answered.
Where do you study? In your dorm room? At the library? In a cute coffee shop? In a bathroom stall? Hey, I don’t judge, you do you. Find a study spot that works for you. No matter where you are, as long as you’re feeling comfortable, that’s all that matters.
If you’re finding that you’re getting bored of one spot, switch things up and find another one.
When exam season rolls around, there’s often this guilt students feel if they take a break from studying. Like they can’t waste a single second not studying. But breaks are good, important even!
The biggest thing to remember is that you’re a human first and a student second. So while doing well on your midterms is important, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. Practice some self- care — have a nap, go for a walk, watch an episode of a show, have a shower, or eat a snack. Plus, taking care of your physical and mental health can make you feel more refreshed and focused for when you go back to studying.
You have worked so hard, you deserve some sweet, sweet rewards. Having something to look forward to after all this studying can honestly make it feel like it was all worth it.
As you study, give yourself tiny rewards as you progress through the material. This can be anything from watching a 20-minute episode after a few hours of studying or hiding some candy in the last page of a textbook chapter that you can eat once you make it to the end.
Also, once you’re done with exams, celebrate that too. Go to a restaurant you like. Go get a fancy latte from a coffee shop. Go to the movies. Just do something that makes you happy. Because midterms are hard and getting through them is a big deal.
Midterm season can often feel brutal, exhausting and never-ending. But with these helpful hacks, it will feel a little easier. Remember — you got this, you’re going to make it through.
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